English 149-2 - Spring, 2023

Topics in Literature

Topic: Witches, Virgins, Mothers, and Other Assorted Monsters

Class Information

Instructor: Gray, Jessica Hanselman
CRN: 62275
Time: TR 1:40 - 3:00pm
Location: 140 Physic
GE Areas: Writing Experience


ENL 149, Topics in Literature, Spring Quarter 2023

Witches, Virgins, Mothers, and Other Assorted Monsters

In this course we will read broadly across genres, periods, and places, exploring depictions of monstrous women and what Barbara Creed calls the "monstrous-feminine." We will focus on examples of how literature gives form to cultural anxieties about women's sexuality, and especially about life stages, reproductive processes, and categories of identity that resist external control.

We will encounter poetry, drama, and fiction. We will take a fresh look at some familiar pieces - including classical, medieval, and modern works - and we will also engage with some less familiar authors, some contemporary YA literature, and film. In addition to literary texts, we will read critical materials that will help us situate our discussions alongside ongoing scholarly conversations, especially those happening at the intersection of gender studies and monster theory.

Classwork will include discussion and a few guided exercises. Homework will involve short weekly writing exercises. One shorter character analysis paper; for the longer final paper students can opt to write a traditional literary critical essay or take on an alternative assignment that offers leeway in terms of genre, medium, and audience.


Classwork 25%
Homework 10%
Character Analysis Paper 10%
Final Paper/Project 30%
Field Guide and Final Reflection 25%